Discover Holiday Magic along Route 66 at Brookfield Zoo

Over 2 million holiday lights twinkle just off The First Hundred Miles

Brookfield Zoo holiday lights

The First Hundred Miles of Route 66 are home to many world-class attractions, but few are more widely known and beloved than the Chicago Zoological Society’s Brookfield Zoo. Located only 15 miles west of Chicago, just a short jog from historic Route 66, the 200-acre zoo is broadly regarded as one of the best in the nation. Now, with the return of Brookfield Zoo’s popular Holiday Magic lighted display, presented by ComEd and Meijer, there’s no better time to take a winter trip to the zoo.

The larger-than-life lighted displays will be illuminated for crowds Nov. 24-26 and 30 and Dec. 1-3, 7-10, 14-17, 21-23, 26-31. Holiday Magic will run from 3 to 9 p.m. each of those dates, and the zoo will not open to the public prior to 3 p.m. on those special event days.

During the fun-filled evenings, the park will be illuminated with 2 million LED lights, creating a magical winter wonderland that can be enjoyed by guests of all ages. Light displays depicting giant animals – bison, reindeer, giraffe and bear – can be seen throughout the zoo. The park will feature two of the zoo’s famed 300-foot light tunnels synchronized to seasonal tunes, a now iconic holiday photo op. Enhancing the ambience are the nearly 900 lit and decorated community and corporate trees on the zoo’s malls and around Roosevelt Fountain, providing additional dazzling attractions.

Brookfield Zoo holiday lights

The fun doesn’t stop at sparkling lights; Holiday Magic features free nightly live entertainment from 5 to 8 p.m. at various locations throughout the zoo. At the North Pole, set in The Pavilions, guests can take in performances by Those Funny Little People and juggling elves, and kids can share their wish lists and have their photos taken with Santa.

On the Nature Stage, zoo-goers can watch professional ice carvers create frozen works of art from giant blocks of ice. While strolling the walkways, join in singing songs with the park’s roaming carolers. Throughout the night, dance parties will take place at the Polar Plaza (aka Hamill Family Nature Plaza). Additionally, guests can take a festive spin on the carousel and check out the zoo’s seasonal virtual-reality experience, “Elf Power,” a magical VR journey featuring reindeer and Santa’s helpers (an extra fee applies for both attractions).

Throughout the park, you’ll find even more opportunities to take memorable photos, including the ever-popular luminous 20-foot-tall orb, presented by Ford. The stunning orb is aglow with thousands of sparkling LED lights, and is located in front of a towering, 41-foot-tall tree decked out in animated LED lights choreographed to festive music. You’ll also find a 16-foot-tall 3D gingerbread house and a holiday-themed festive photo frame.

Brookfield Zoo holiday lights

Best of all, you’ll still get to see some of your favorite animals in the park. Several indoor and outdoor animal habitats are open during Holiday Magic, including Tropic World, Big Cats, The Swamp, Feathers and Scales, Reptiles and Birds, Desert’s Edge, Clouded Leopard Rain Forest, The Living Coast, Hamill Family Wild Encounters (reindeer and goats only), Great Bear Wilderness, Australia House and Hamill Family Play Zoo. All indoor animal buildings close at 8:30 p.m., except for Tropic World and Hamill Family Play Zoo, which close at 8 p.m.

Stop by the zoo’s shops for unique holiday gifts to share the cheer. The zoo’s restaurants and food stands will offer holiday-themed food and drinks for purchase, such as hot chocolate, cookies and mulled wine.

For more information on Holiday Magic, and to start planning your trip to Brookfield Zoo, be sure to visit